Peer & Mentoring Support for Young People in Juvenile Rehabilitation

January 21, 2022
Youth from the peer mentor group MADE Men at Green Hill School

Mentors and peer counselors with lived experience are having a dramatic impact on services, supports, and community-building around the state and internationally. Young people and their families, especially in communities of color, are asking for support from people who have overcome similar challenges. To advocate the importance of this need, Juvenile Rehabilitation (JR) is expanding peer and mentor supports for young people in DCYF's care.

The individuals we work with have unique behavioral health needs and face disproportionate barriers. Increasing connections and supports to peer mentors with shared experience and background can impact these factors and build safe, strong communities through successful reentry. In collaboration with community and agency partners, these efforts include:

  • Recruiting a peer support program specialist to lead agency efforts in this space.
  • Piloting Peer Bridger reentry support with funding from Health Care Authority.
  • Connecting young people to peer networks such as SPARK (Students Providing and Receiving Knowledge).
  • Increasing access to WISe (Wrap Around with Intensive Services). Certified youth and parent peer counselors are key WISe team members in programs offered statewide.
  • Providing culturally responsive mentoring through Relevant Engagement and Hope for Homies, and supporting peer-to-peer programs such as MADE Men at Green Hill School.
  • Convening a diverse consultation group with peers, advocates, youth, and staff to provide guidance to JR about growing agency capacity and supports for peer services.

By working with young people to identify goals, address individualized needs, and provide meaningful supports, DCYF is helping to set individuals up for success as they return to their community and transition into adulthood.

Click here to watch a presentation to the Governor about expanding peer services in JR.